Foundation for Appalachian Ohio wants to be more visible

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 24, 2003

One-third of Ohio's 88 counties are considered Appalachian.

The 29 counties that comprise Appalachian Ohio are home to 14 percent of the state's population. Yet Appalachian Ohio holds less than 2 percent of the state's foundation assets. One non-profit organization is seeking to change this, and is seeking greater visibility within Lawrence County and the other counties it serves.

The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio started in 1998 to promote charitable giving and in turn use this money to promote economic improvement through grants for various projects, according to its president and chief executive officer, Leslie Lilly.

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"The statewide Association of Ohio Grant makers published a report on charitable giving in 1998," Lilly said. "And it was noticed that there was a significant gap in charitable giving between Appalachian Ohio and others areas in the state. Per capita, charitable giving amounts to $150 in Appalachian Ohio. If you subtract the two largest counties (Scioto and Muskingham), charitable giving per capita is about $50, whereas in other areas of the state, that amount is more like $1,200. That's why we're here. Almost any increase in charitable giving can make a difference."

Lilly said the Nelsonville-based FAO acts as an umbrella organization, soliciting funds from corporations and other sponsors, and then using this money to fund various projects that have the ability to make long-term changes in local communities. The FAO also provides technical assistance to and works with other non-profit organizations in joint efforts.

"We look for projects where partnerships and collaborations cross the traditional boundaries," Lilly said. "We encourage people to do better by working together to leverage the investment. We're not just in the business of building assets but also in giving money in a strategic way so as to build on these assets."

The organization has awarded $500,000 in grants since it began operation five years ago.

Those who want additional information about FAO may visit the organization's web site at